Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tapped out

I've been meaning to write for a while, but I haven't had it in me. I'm on empty. Beyond empty. And I don't really want to talk about it.

I'm just emotionally dried up. And everything seems to aggravate me in new ways.

Take, for instance:

-the snow we got yesterday, which was supposed to be an inch and turned into nearly a foot.

-the constant trips to the doctor's offices to take care of Sophie.

-the incessant emails from my chemistry class with questions about fifth grade math and not chemistry.

-the way my to-do list keeps expanding without ever crossing anything off.

-how I work my butt off, doing two jobs plus trying to be a mom/wife/co-CEO of a household, only to be ahead by $6 at the end of the month.

I just wonder what it's all gotten me. I am adamant about not carrying revolving debt (only a mortgage), and yet I watch as those around me get rewarded for making bad financial decisions. Sure, let's bail everyone out! Want to go on a nice vacation, but not pay for it? Go ahead! Have three mp3 players but want another one? Why not! Want to buy a house but can't afford the debt? We'll forgive your loan! And I've been trying to stash away what we have for college and retirement, only to watch our savings be cut in half over the last year.

We drive cars with 120k and 160k miles on them. Our phones are years old and barely work. I wear holey socks on a regular basis (ask my family...) I cut coupons and shop sales. And yet, I feel like we are no farther ahead than people who just do whatever they want. I do have sympathy for people who tried to do the right thing but got laid off, hit by a bad situation, etc. It's not those people I am mad at. It's people who have no personal responsibility and never feel like they have to. They feel entitled. I know a graduate student who leases a BMW because he wants to drive a nice car. He goes into debt more every month, but he says he'll just declare bankruptcy when he's done. Awesome.

And I'm not immune from my own criticism. There are definitely financial decisions I wish I had a do-over on. The difference is that I've found ways to make up for those bad decisions without putting the burdens on others. If I had known the housing market would tank, would I have moved? Heck no. Yes, I love my house. Yes, my commute has improved markedly. Yes, we got a good deal. But would I do it again? Heck no.

I'm a responsible person by nature. I always have been. That's why I'm working towards getting a good career, saving my pennies, and putting everyone and everything else first.

But you know what? It's no fun. And sometimes, it downright sucks. And I wish I could go out and blow money on a flat-panel TV (or a finished basement). But I know how I would feel after I did that. And it's not worth it at all. My job is to be a role-model and a provider for Sophie. Yes, our TV is broken--the IR sensor doesn't work, so the remote doesn't work. But I'd rather get up and change the volume and put money into Sophie's savings (or in this case, not put a TV on a credit card) than have a fancy new TV that I watch three hours a week.

Trouble is now that I have such a saver mentality ingrained in me that I feel downright guilty when I spend even a little money on myself (forget the big stuff). I save up my play money every week and occasionally buy myself lunch at work or a cup of coffee. But that's it.

And I've talked to people, and they say, "Take a day off! Do something for yourself!"

I wish I could. But then I feel guilty. I already see how frustrated Tim is on Saturday nights when I come home from teaching. He's had Sophie all day, and he is not in a good mood (you should have seen him tonight after taking Sophie to the ENT). And it's not that I blame him--she's a handful. But I'd trade places with him in a minute. I'm not teaching as a hobby--I'm doing it to bring in money (albeit a very little amount). And when I've spent all night Friday and all day Saturday prepping and teaching, and I have a mountain of grading (plus more lesson plans) to look forward to, I'm not too sympathetic to his plight.

And maybe that's what I like the least about who I am right now. I used to be patient and sympathetic. I haven't been lately. Tim works and goes to school; I work two jobs. And we have Sophie. We're both exhausted, but we are doing what we have to do.

Having Sophie is not something I regret. It has completely changed my life (and our budget), but I do think it is worth it. Part of the problem is I put myself last before I had her. Now there is even less room for my needs.

And forget upkeep--my house is a wreck, I haven't touched anything like pictures in ages, and the piles of papers are overtaking my desk. Thank god most of our bills are autopaid online--who knows what is buried under the stack.

I just can't keep giving 110% to everything. I'm busting it at work to try and get things done (and make a good impression). Teaching has totally taken over more of my time than I ever anticipated--I think I am averaging about $5/hour at this point. I haven't really cooked in a long time. And please, don't look in my shower. It's just wrong.

I know times like these come and go. And I know that all of the snow we've gotten this winter has only made me feel more frustrated and claustrophobic. But all I want is a break. I'd even take Sophie and Tim with me, as long as there were no other obligations to my time. I like spending time with the two of them. I don't get to give them my undivided attention as much as I should.

But life won't slow down. If anything, things are building. I can feel myself shutting down--it's my version of safe mode. I completely emotionally disconnect from my world and just get things done. It gets me through the tough times. But it's not healthy.

I've gone into safe mode for so many different reasons over the years. I'm just worried that I am needing to do it more and more frequently. I don't want to mechanically march through my life. I want to enjoy it. But if I stay emotionally plugged in for much longer, I'm going to melt down.

I see this perfectionism/procrastination cycle in myself. For instance, it's Thursday night. I still have a ton of grading to do, and I'm only about halfway through my lesson planning (well, maybe less than halfway). I know I can't get done what I want to by class on Saturday. So what am I doing? Procrastinating. I'll stay up late tomorrow night and get up early Saturday to finish what I can, but when I hit the deadline, I have to accept whatever I have at that point.

Stress is really taking its toll. I'm not sleeping again. My immune system has been crap. And I feel agitated all the time.

I do know that this won't last forever. I go through phases like this, and I swear I have some type of snow-related Seasonal Affective Disorder. I get my first weekend off next weekend, and I am hoping to get caught up on my life to-do list. This will help me regain some control and brighten my mood. For now, I just need to vent. And maybe try to actually sleep tonight.

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